Climax Series First Stage, Game 1 – Ace + Cleanup = W

It was looking like the weather might wash away the entire weekend of baseball, but the skies held up as Game 1 between the Hanshin Tigers and the Yokohama DeNA BayStars got started. All the talk was that winners of Game 1 of this playoff series go on to the next round 95% of the time. Here’s how the action went down:

October 14, 2017. 2:00 pm. Hanshin Koshien Stadium

Starting Pitchers: Randy Messenger (11-5, 2.39 ERA) vs. Shoichi Inoh (6-10, 3.84 ERA)

Top 1: Randy gave up a one-out single up the middle, but that was all for the BayStars.

Bottom 1: Hiroki Uemoto got on via a walk, but that was all for the Tigers.

Top 2: Three up, three down.

Bottom 2: The Tigers’ first hit of the day was a Yamato two-out single to center. He was stranded.

Top 3: Another three up, three down.

Bottom 3: Uemoto reached on an infield single to shortstop with two outs. Yoshio Itoi took first for free. But alas, no run scored.

Top 4: After a long at bat against Lopez, Tsutsugoh got a two-out single to right, but in the end, Messenger got through the tough part of the order with no damage done.

Bottom 4: First three up three down for our guys. One sharp grounder and two strikeouts.

Top 5: Kajitani got a leadoff hit, but was thrown out on a stolen base attempt. No runner has touched second yet for the ‘Stars.

Bottom 5: With one out, Randy singled to left. The other guys did nothing.

Top 6: Another quick inning for Randy – groundout, fly out, strikeout. His line: 6 IP, 106 TP, 3 H, 0 BB, 0 R, 4 K

Bottom 6: Itoi led off with a single, and Kosuke Fukudome broke the string of bagels with a big home run to right center.

Yamato collected his second single of the game after two outs, but was left on first base again.

Hanshin 2, Yokohama 0

Top 7:  Messenger replaced by Marcos Mateo. Infield fly, K, K. Clean up hitters get taken to the cleaners. Nice line! 1 IP, 14 TP, 0 H, 0 BB, 0 R, 2 K

Bottom 7: Pinch hitter Kento Itohara (welcome back!) reached on Lopez’s throwing error, and was replaced by pinch runner Taiga Egoshi. After a failed bunt attempt, Egoshi stole second, and then Uemoto had a ball graze his helmet so he took second. However, a double play got the ‘Stars out of the inning without further damage.

Top 8: Kentaro Kuwahara in. After a leadoff single, Kuwahara induced a grounder to the first pinch hitter. Walked the second pinch hitter on 4 pitches. He got a second out but the grounder pushed both runners into scoring position. And then, the dream matchup everyone was waiting for. Kuwahara vs. Kuwahara. In a great battle, Kentaro struck out Masashi to get out of the inning unblemished. 1 IP, 24 TP, 1 H, 1 BB, 0 R, 1 K.

Bottom 8: With one out, Yusuke Ohyama singled to center. Then Takashi Toritani did the same. But they don’t give points for leaving guys on base. Score remains the same.

Top 9: So it would come down to Rafael Dolis against their cleanup hitters. Four-pitch strikeout. Grounder. Three-pitch strikeout. 1 IP, 10 TP, 0 H, 0 BB, 0 R, 2 K. Game 1 goes to the good guys.

Final Score:  2 – 0 

WP: Messenger. LP: Inoh

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T-Ray is the founder, chief writer and Junior Executive Vice President of Hanshin Tigers English News (H-TEN). Find him on Twitter @thehanshintiger.